Sitting comfortably among the V100 law firms, McDermott is best known for its work in health care and tax—though its practices extend far beyond. The firm is forward thinking when it comes to wellness, offering lawyers billable credit for 25 wellness hours, and will appeal to those seeking a collegial, supportive environment. While the firm is still known for its strength in tax, McDermott’s reach has expanded over the decades. The firm counsels its clients on newer areas such as life sciences, renewable e...

Firm Stats


Total No. Attorneys (2021)


No. of Partners Named (2021)


Featured Rankings

Vault Law 100...


No. of 1st Year Associates Hired (2020)


No. of Summer Associates (2021)


Base Salary

Class of 2021: $202,500...

Vault Verdict

Associates at McDermott practically gush over the firm’s culture and commitment to its associates. The firm is a warm place where lawyers get together regularly, even throughout the pandemic via zoom. Partners are invested in associates’ professional growth, providing frequent feedback and opportunities for substantive work. The firm provides a budget for formal mentoring as well as one for associates to get together with informal mentors. Training is also robust, including an intensive training for first years when they start and regular practice trainings. Management provides tremendous transparency into firm finances and decision-making, and associates are given personal counseling on their odds for partnership. But McDermott doesn’t view partnership as the only path—one associ...

About the Firm


A Chicago institution since the 1930s, McDermott Will & Emery has, in recent decades, broadened its gaze to new markets in the United States and abroad. The strategy has paid off in spades, with McDermott firmly ensconced among the world’s largest and most elite law firms. 

A Windy Start 

McDermott opened for business in 1934 as a tax firm run by Edward H. McDermott and William M. Emery. A mere seven years later, the third and final name partner was added in corporate specialist Howard A. Will. The firm’s name has remained the same ever since, a remarkable feat of continuity in the modern atmosphere of shortened firm names, legal mergers, and buyouts. McDermott added an Estate Planning division in 1941, and by 1944, the firm had burgeoned to 1...

Associate Reviews

  • The people here don't take themselves too seriously and aren't pretentious, which is rare in this field.  We all work very hard but have as much fun as we can in the process. Most of all, I feel like my colleagues are my friends.
  • I lateraled to McDermott at the beginning of the pandemic and have just been wowed by the culture of the firm. Extremely inviting, warm, and transparent. Firm leadership is genuinely interested in the kind of culture they are creating at the firm, and it shows from the top down with the emphasis on morale, mindfulness, and being a career accelerant. Partners I lateraled over with joked that associates at McDermott get the same transparency into the firm that they got as share partners at our former firm.”
  • Very professional atmosphere, but also supportive and inclusive. There is respect among all levels. Some socializing after work hours, and a lot of cross-practice socializing.”
  • Everyone at the firm is very friendly. We do monthly in-office happy hours with all of the staff and attorneys. During COVID we continued these monthly happy hours via Zoom.”
  • Partners are extremely focused on helping associates grow and develop into every more successful attorneys. Formal reviews occur once a year, but there is constant informal feedback throughout projects.
  • While our offices have been closed, firm management has held monthly and sometimes bi-monthly meetings with associates to keep us updated on firm finances and other firm matters. They also have actively sought associate feedback when it comes to office reopening and future policies.”
  • Both individual partners and the firm's leadership respect associates and we are given opportunities for input in a variety of ways. Transparency is there when it comes to firm finances and performance reviews. My conversations regarding internal promotion have been remarkably frank. Reviews are annually and associates are free to (and encouraged to) ask for feedback throughout the year.”
  • I have always felt like the partners I work for are invested in me and want to see me thrive. I look up to many of the partners as mentors and role models. Management has always been transparent regarding the firm's performance and finances, and the management team recognizes that associates are key to the firm's success.”
  • Flexibility is the word that describes MWE. The workload is pretty intense, however, the firm and the partners give us lots of flexibility and freedom as to when to work and on what do we want to work on.”
  • The amount of work is in line with BigLaw; there [is] a 2,000-hour requirement for associates to be eligible for bonuses, and each office has a staffing team responsible for distributing work among associates.”
  • The billable-hour requirement is less intimidating than it seems on paper, given the credit assigned for ‘tag along’ time, ‘mindfulness’ time, and pro bono hours.”
  • There's a work-hard play culture at play. May vary by group.”
  • Bonus was completely with consistent with market, including special COVID bonuses.  …”
  • We get market compensation and market bonus. Associates are eligible for above-market bonuses if they bill above the 2,000-billable-hour requirement, which is awesome for busier associates.”
  • Bonuses are lockstep if you meet the billable-hour requirement. Our bonuses are significantly above market if you get a positive annual review and exceed the 2,000 hour billable requirement.”
  • My bonus was over double market—very happy.”
  • McDermott is the type of place where good work is rewarded with more work and associates are able to take on larger roles as soon as they show they are capable of doing so.”
  • From day one, I have had the opportunity to do substantive work that has helped me to improve my legal skills. Even as a first year associate, I was taking the lead in writing briefs, appearing at status hearings, and other substantive tasks. Since then, the substantive opportunities have only grown and progressed with my experience level.”
  • I am a junior corporate associate but I am given lots of opportunities. I already have experience in pretty much every document or process except for the purchase agreement itself. I run and manage due diligence and draft ancillary documents.”
  • I have been given opportunities far and above my peers at other firm, including being lead writer on several appeals, writing more briefs than I can count, arguing in court substantively multiple times, and taking a deposition.”
  • I work in Private Client practice and we support ultra-high-net-worth clients in areas of tax, estate and succession planning, inbound and outbound transactions, and worldwide asset management. Because our firm is the premier Private Client practice among large law firms, I am constantly offered work in increasingly complex areas of our practice. This work is always appropriate for my level, but is simultaneously challenging and anticipatory of my expertise rising to the next level.”
  • We moved seamlessly to work from home, which I credit to already robust use of Zoom and investment in ‘always on’ VPN. We are constantly innovating - just today I got an email asking about my preferences for a new upgrade.”
  • We didn’t get a tech stipend like a lot of other BigLaw firms did, but transitioning to working from home was seamless otherwise.”
  • We were able to transition to work-from-home effortlessly, in large part because the firm focused its initial push on getting non-attorney support staff up and running. That to me was a testament of the one-firm focus of McDermott. IT is available 24 hours a day.  We have hosted innumerable virtual meetings and conferences. Management has listened to associates' wants and needs and has recognized generational technological fluency differences and has worked to appreciate those differences (e.g., adopting SharePoint to save work consistently since few associates have—or need—printers at home).”
  • Our IT department is unmatched and the firm is dedicated to giving us the most up to date technology.”
  • The firm provides 25 hours of billable credit for mindfulness hours, which can be used for meditation and wellness. There is also a number of wellness programs carried on by the firm, including a weekly meditation over Zoom on Fridays. McDermott also hosts speakers that speak to members of the firm about financial, mental and physical wellness.”
  • The firm provides meditation sessions, subscriptions to mindfulness apps, etc. But the major thing is they shine a spotlight on mental health and create a space where it’s comfortable to acknowledge if things are not going well.”
  • “[McDermott offers] weekly meditations, 25 hours of mindfulness counted towards billable hour requirement, regular wellness-related trainings, wellness subcommittee of the associates committee that can spearhead initiatives, certain offices have Pelotons, [and] wellness week with wellness-related activities.”
  • “Wellness seems to be a top priority from our managing partner. That attitude permeates the firm. …”
  • We went through a month-long intensive training upon starting. Since then, we have practice group trainings a few times per month and incentives to meet with our mentors.  We received both an integration mentor and a formal mentor to help with the transition.
  • McDermott has substantive formal training opportunities that help associates develop necessary skills. The firm also promotes formal and informal mentoring. Each associate is assigned a formal mentor and a budget is set aside for coffee or lunch events between mentor and mentee. Groups of associates from similar years will meet as ‘cohorts’ with partners to discuss common questions. McDermott also provides a budget for informal mentoring that promotes taking unofficial mentors out to lunch.”
  • We have multiple trainings per week, ranging from new developments in law to business development practices. We are also encouraged to meet with our formal mentor once a month.”
  • McDermott's professional development program constantly sponsors training opportunities, and the firm offers 75 hours of ‘tag along’ time, which is billable hour equivalent. This enables junior associates to attend in-person negotiations and various other meaningful training opportunities while still receiving billable credit.”
  • The firm sees itself as a career accelerant, equipping us with the skills to thrive at the firm or go off and do any number of things that build upon the expertise built at the firm.”
  • I expect to make partner within the next year and I believe that it is realistic for me and for others. The firm has counsel roles where senior associates transition into a non-partner role. Many of the associates who have exited the firm have taken on roles in government or in-house, especially positions within the healthcare industry.”
  • Promotion to partnership is a realistic path for those who would like to get there. However, the firm is also very invested in associates being successful, wherever they end up.”
  • I think that people who are willing to work hard and make-it-known that they want to be considered for partner are generally able to find an avenue. Also, the firm is incredibly supportive in this pursuit by offering confidential career counseling. This counseling is available for individuals who want to improve their internal promotability, along with for individuals who decide to pursue a different career path.”
  • The firm allows for 100 pro bono billable hours and can allow for more with granted permission. They often promote pro bono work and value its importance.”
  • McDermott is deeply committed to pro bono work. This past summer, the Governor of Massachusetts appointed us to investigate the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home.  I was proud to be a part of this active investigation and to dedicate the majority of my summer to this important investigation.  I received billable credit for all of my investigation work that counted towards my bonus.”
  • I’ve helped with setting up 501(c)(3) organizations.”
  • “… I helped a pro bono client with a tax credit application to film a documentary in a specific state, which was great. I also helped a pro bono client with tax considerations they need to take into account while they create a non-profit organization.”
  • The firm has invested a lot in promoting diversity in the workplace. Most recently, they launched McDermott Rise, which is a very valuable program allowing associates and partners the chance to offer discounted/pro bono legal services to businesses in disadvantaged communities.”
  • The amount of female partners at McDermott and the support women receive on their path to partnership at McDermott is part of what lead me to choose to work here. There is an incredible support system and a lot of inspiration at the top.”
  • Our LGBTQ+ committee is very active and does a great job hosting events, attracting diverse talent, and educating McDermott attorneys and staff regarding LGBTQ+ issues.  Through our partnerships with LGBTQ+ organizations, the firm is heavily involved in pro bono projects that support the same and equal rights.”
  • The firm promotes diversity on all fronts and has regular programming to bring awareness as to how we can increase our efforts in terms of D&I.”

Why Work Here

Diversity at McDermott Will & Emery

"Since McDermott was established in 1934, we have been driven not only to give our clients excellent service but also to be citizens in our workplace and communities. Our lawyers have built upon this legacy in a number of ways, including efforts to ensure that diversity and inclusion are top priorities for the Firm. Over the last three decades, our Gender Diversity, Racial & Ethnic Diversity and LGBTQ Diversity Subcommittees have led the charge to recruit, retain, and develop diverse talent. In 2011, the three committees were..."

Getting Hired Here

  • The small summer associate class sizes compared some other peer firms makes the hiring process competitive. But this is a huge advantage for any summer associate at McDermott because that small class translates into more opportunities for substantive work and development of strong relationships with partners and other colleagues at the firm.”
  • The firm, like most firms, focuses part of its recruiting effort on T14 schools, but makes opportunities extremely available to students from other schools. What they mainly look for is personality, diversity, and a genuine interest in the work, either demonstrated by law school performance, past work experience, or the interview.”
  • Good grades, demonstration of interest in practice area that the student is interviewing for, diversity, [and] eloquence.”
  • The firm seeks high performers, top schools, top grades.”
  • Why McDermott?”
  • When I conduct interviews for the firm, I try not to work from a specific list of questions. Instead, I try to just have a normal conversation with the candidate, maybe asking about anything interesting on their resume. I mostly like to see what questions they have about the firm, and whether they've done research on McDermott and have a specific interest in us.”
  • Please describe one of your extracurricular activities that you want to highlight for us. Is there anything else that you would like to tell us about yourself that we haven’t discussed yet?”
  • One question I was asked was, ‘Tell me about a success you have had or proudest moment in life outside of law school,’ which showed me McDermott's interest in more than just my resume.”
  • I felt completely integrated within the first month of joining McDermott.  My first week I was added to a case team that was opposing a preliminary injunction motion so felt like I was immediately part of a McDermott team.”
  • I was impressed with the firm's integration efforts, especially because I lateraled about 2 months before we transitioned to remote work. The firm still made sure I had opportunities to meet people in the office, even if it had to be done remotely.”
  • The partners I work with were quick to get me involved and made me feel at home in the group.”
  • I very much felt like I hit the ground running and that was in part because the partners took time to reach out to me even when we were remote. Very good integration from my standpoint.”

Practice Area Q&A’s

Michael J. Bruno & Katie Quinn

Partner & Partner

McDermott Will & Emery
Sandra M. DiVarco & Anisa Mohanty

Partner & Counsel

McDermott Will & Emery
Jiayan Chen & Deepali Doddi

Partner & Associate

McDermott Will & Emery
Laura Gavioli & Steven Hadjilogiou

Partner & Partner

McDermott Will & Emery
Ashley M. Fischer & Marshall E. Jackson, Jr.

Partner & Associate

McDermott Will & Emery

Perks & Benefits